The first light of the day greets the Capitol Building for more legislative activity
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)

Trivia!

The “Lost” Capitol. When it was still a Territory, Washington had a different Capitol Building. Where was the original Capitol Building located?

This Week’s Highlights

Action on three of the Initiatives to the Legislature. This week, joint legislative committees held public hearings on three of the six Initiatives to the Legislature:

While each of the initiatives were heard before joint legislative committees (for example, the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee and the House Education Committee held a joint hearing on I-2081), each of the Senate and House Committees will meet independently Friday, March 1 in Executive Sessions to take a vote on the initiatives. Using the example of I-2081, the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee will meet in its own Executive Session to consider I-2081 and the House Education Committee will meet separately in its Executive Session to also consider I-2081.

If these initiatives are approved by their respective committees, they will move to the Senate and House Floors for debates and votes there. Those initiatives passed by both bodies will NOT appear on the November general election ballot.

Initiatives to the Legislature are not subject to legislative cutoff deadlines, nor do they require gubernatorial approval. For more information, the Washington State Standard has been covering the hearings on I-2113 (vehicular pursuits), I-2081 (parental rights) and I-2111 (income tax).

Another day, another committee cutoff. In what now feels like weeks ago, Monday, Feb. 26 represented the final committee cutoff – the deadline for bills to pass out of the opposite chamber’s fiscal committee.

For many advocates (including this writer), it made for quite a tense weekend of waiting to see if your beloved bill would make the Monday Executive Session schedule AND receive a vote. The bill that received the most attention was in the Senate Ways and Means Committee where an effort to pass rent stabilization failed to garner sufficient support for passage. Again, our friends at the Washington State Standard captured the issue – and the political implications – in a thorough manner.

“It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” Friday, March 1 at 5 p.m. represents the Opposite House Cutoff. This means that all bills (except those deemed Necessary to Implement the Budget) must be passed by the opposite body.

Maybe it is because so many bills did not make it through the filter this year, but it does feel like the Legislature has a more manageable list of bills to tackle before 5 p.m. on Friday. We again get to play the game of “What is the 5 p.m. bill?” (We really need more entertaining hobbies in this work). Check out the February 16 edition of Notes from Olympia for a description of the 5 p.m. bill concept.

The demise of the rent stabilization bill, as noted above, takes one of the likely options off the table for the Senate’s 5 p.m. bill. In the House, talk is that the “Keep Our Care Act” (ESB 5241) could be their 5 p.m. bill. Supporters argue the Keep Our Care Act will ensure that hospital mergers do not limit access to critical health care.

Check back next week for the riveting conclusion to the question gripping the state of Washington – “What was the 5 p.m. bill?” In the meantime, visit our state policy resources page for the latest status on bills. 

What’s on deck for the final week?

What can we expect? Other than the unexpected, of course!

Finalization and approval of budgets. A major – if not the primary – “to do” in the final week of the legislative session is the release and ultimate approval of the compromise Operating, Capital and Transportation budgets. Typically, this is one of the final acts before adjournment. If you are sitting in the Senate and House galleries watching the Floor debate right now, it is quite common to see budget writers popping on and off the Floor as they continue to iron out budget details. They are working to craft a balanced budget that also garners sufficient support for passage. As part of this process, Senate and House budget negotiators are identifying areas of variance between their two budget approaches and working toward compromise. Again, always with an eye toward a balanced budget that will pass both chambers.

Once the compromise budgets are released, Start Early Washington will update its budget chart with all the details on our state policy resources page.

“Get it right back where we started from.” Just like in the classic Maxine Nightingale song, sometimes you gotta “get it right back where we started from.” (Google the song if you don’t know it – it’s a classic toe tapper!). I’m working hard to spice up the rather dry mechanics of the legislative process, folks!

If a bill has not been amended in the opposite chamber, it can go straight to the Governor for action following passage and signature by the respective leaders. Conversely, when a bill has been amended in the opposite chamber, it must go back to where it started from (I did have a point with the song reference!) so the originating body can give their A-OK on the amendments made in the opposite chamber. This process is called “concurrence.” Much of the last week of the legislative session will focus on the Senate and House concurring on the opposite chamber’s amendments. There are occasions when there is disagreement over the direction the bill has taken in the opposite chamber, and there are steps in place to address when this occurs.

“So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu.” This classic song from “The Sound of Music” feels very appropriate right now. At the end of every two-year legislative session, it is customary for lawmakers to announce retirements. Sometimes legislators are retiring from elected office altogether while others might be seeking an office different from the State Legislature.

We are starting to see the retirement announcements roll out, including from freshman House Republican Spencer Hutchins from the 26th legislative district in Kitsap County. Last week, Representative Hutchins announced he would not seek reelection to the Legislature due to the impact holding office has had on his family and business. On Wednesday, former House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, who has served the 2nd legislative district representing parts of Pierce and Thurston counties since 2011, shared his plans to retire at the conclusion of his term.

During the last week of session, we will see time set aside in the Senate and House for lawmakers to honor and thank their departing colleagues for their contributions.

SINE DIE is March 7 – the end is near! In Latin, “Sine Die” literally means “without day.” What that means in the legislative context is there is no day designated on which the Legislature will resume its activities (until the next year).

During the legislative session, when the Senate and House officially adjourn each day, they announce their return. So, when the Senate adjourned last night, they announced the Senate was adjourned until 9 a.m. Friday, March 1, the 54th legislative day. Sine Die is the one day they do not announce a return date.

What Sine Die means for those involved in the legislative process either as a legislator, staff, advocates or other interested parties, is we can take a second to breathe and catch up on some much-needed sleep.

It might be Sine Die, but the work is not quite done. As we near the end of session, everyone is eager to get their bills approved by both chambers (relatively intact), signed by the House Speaker and Senate President and to the desk of the Governor for his hopeful signature. Of course, bills are not considered “law” if they don’t get the Governor’s “John Hancock.”

The timing of when the Governor must act on bills that reach his desk is connected to the timing of when they are delivered to his desk. In short, there are two main rules:

  • Any bill that is delivered to the Governor’s office when there are MORE THAN five days before the legislative session ends, becomes a “5-day bill”—that is, the Governor must act upon it within five days.
  • Any bill that is delivered to the Governor’s office when there are FEWER than five days remaining in the legislative session, becomes a “20-day bill”—the Governor must act upon it within 20 days.

Like with any rule, there are exceptions! One exception involves how the days are counted. Per the Governor’s office website, these time periods are counted using calendar days, not business days. Even Saturdays and state holidays are included in the count! But Sundays are not included.

Much like with babies, the key detail in this process is the delivery date, meaning the day the bill shows up at the Governor’s office. For example, a bill may have passed Feb. 29, but due to need for leadership signatures, it may not be delivered to the Governor’s office until March 2, so it becomes a 20-day bill because of when it was delivered.

Today, March 1, is the cutoff for 5-day bills. So, if you’re eagerly awaiting Governor Inslee’s signature, here’s to hoping your bill(s) was delivered to his office today!

How to track the status of bill signings? Governor Inslee’s website contains a bill action section that will include updates on scheduled bill actions and note actions taken to date. Most of the bill activity will occur in the Governor’s conference room in the Legislative Building but sometimes a bill signing will be scheduled at a relevant location off-campus, such as a school for an education-related bill.

If you’re *really* excited about a bill getting signed and want to see its signature ceremony, the best way to watch is on TVW. Bill sponsors are afforded a few invitations, but unfortunately bill signings have been closed to the public since the pandemic.

Trivia Answer

The first Capitol Building, also known as the Territorial Capitol, was located on the current Capitol campus between what we now know as the Legislative Building and the Insurance Building.

“X” Marks the Spot of the Original Capitol Building for the Washington Territory
Map courtesy: Washington State Department of Enterprise Services (edited by Start Early WA)

The Territory Capitol Building was originally a small structure built out of wood in 1856, paid for using federal funding. Although it was understood to be a temporary location, legislators (among others) complained about the location because they thought it was too far out of the way. The building was just a tad smaller than our Legislative Building today, measuring only 40 by 60 feet. The first floor held a “hall” for the House of Representatives and two small committee rooms. The upper floor housed the Council (Senate), two additional committee rooms and a Territorial library. 75 delegates worked from the building.

Apparently, it was already falling apart by 1874 (including rotting and sinking floors), and Congress gave the state $5,000 for repairs (which were completed), but there was a push for an entirely new building in the 1890s. The original Capitol building was abandoned in 1905 and destroyed in 1911. The State Board of Control wanted it to get demolished for free, but not surprisingly, the construction workers wanted to be paid for their labor. Eventually, W. J. Giggey and J. W. Relf of Olympia made an offer to knock down the original Capitol Building and accept the scrap lumber as payment—this offer was accepted. Construction on the current Capitol Campus began in 1912 and the Capitol Building we know today, was completed in 1927.

After the first Capitol Building was torn down, the Legislature met in the Old State Capitol Building in downtown Olympia from 1905 to 1928 (this building is now the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction). Sadly, the Old State Capitol Building caught fire in 1928. The Tacoma Fire Department responded as quickly as they could to the fire (although they got stuck in weekend traffic) and the community helped save the valuables inside, including stuffed and mounted animals on display in the lobby. According to History Link, “all the records and files were saved, but some were water soaked.” While taxidermy wouldn’t have been my first thought to save, it’s great that important documents and these items were preserved.

To contextualize the timing: Washington was created from the larger Oregon territory on March 2, 1853, and officially accepted to the Union on November 11, 1889. At the time, Washington state was going to be called the “Territory of Columbia,” but Representative Richard H. Stanton pointed out that people might confuse it with the nation’s capital territory at the time, Territory of Columbia (now the District of Columbia). While he did make a valid point, perhaps ironically, we did not escape the confusion with the nation’s capital, as we still need to clarify Washington state versus Washington D.C., the city.

The original Capitol Building in the snow (1911)
(Photo Credit: Washington State Archives via Olympia Historical Society
& Bigelow House Museum)

Resources:

Abandoned Territorial Campus in the Snow [Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum]
Fire damages Old State Capitol Building in Olympia on September 8, 1928 [HistoryLink.org]
Territorial Capitol 2/5/17 [Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum]
Lost Landmark: Washington’s “Temporary” Territorial and First State Capitol [Thurston Talk]

More Like This

The Legislative Building awaits another busy week
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)

Trivia!

The Humble Bivalve. HB 1984 by Representative Mike Chapman would designate which clam as the official clam of Washington state?

Spoiler alert: This bill was pre-filed before the legislative session, but it didn’t make it out of committee. Perhaps it will “mussel” its way through the Legislature in another year.

Highlights of the Week

Potato Day! The potatoes this year really hit the spot, and you can tell the people on campus love these sponsored food days. Thank you to the Washington State Potato Commission!

Potato Day!
(Photo Credit: Zoë Erb)

Caseload Forecast

On Friday, Feb. 16, the Washington State Caseload Forecast Council released its updated caseload forecast. These caseload forecasts project expected caseloads for entitlement programs ranging from K-12 education to public assistance to corrections. Budget writers use this data to inform their budgets.

In terms of early learning, the following are updated forecasted caseloads:

Narratives accompanying the caseload forecasts and analyses of note (including any risks to the forecasts) are as follows:

  • Transition to Kindergarten (TTK). TTK has been more popular in smaller school districts and rural communities, and less common in certain areas such as King County. Risks to the forecast include variance depending upon the month in which a school district starts its TTK program. The narrative also notes TTK is a newer program, which makes forecasting future caseloads more challenging.
  • ECEAP. The narrative notes that nearly all of the enrollment growth for ECEAP in the 2022-23 school year was from children who were not “entitlement eligible” (meaning children who meet eligibility to participate under rules adopted by DCYF, not those eligible by income). The forecast also finds enrollment has been higher in the 2023-24 school year than in the 2022-23 year.
  • Working Connections Child Care. The forecast accounts for recently enacted legislation that builds on the Fair Start for Kids Act and further expands eligibility for Working Connections Child Care. There is also assumed continued recovery from the pandemic in terms of child care usage.
  • Early Achievers Subsidy Providers. The forecasted growth in Early Achievers Subsidy Providers should have an asterisk next to it because it represents the use of a new system to track number of providers. With this new system, we should have a more accurate count of the number of licensed providers participating in Early Achievers going forward. One particular item of note is the assumption that the increased enrollment of new providers is being driven by recent increases in reimbursement rates, particularly those for family child care providers.

Supplemental Budget Updates. Earlier this week, the Senate and House released their Operating and Capital budgets (as well as Transportation budgets). The released documents reflect more of a traditional supplemental budget approach, with the limited new investments focused on high priority, time sensitive items such as fentanyl response, housing and the overall workforce crisis.

Start Early Washington shared a side-by-side comparison of the various – and varying – approaches to the Operating and Capital budgets proposed by the Senate, House, and the Governor that impact early learning, on our state policy resources page. The side-by-side comparison chart highlights how the bodies invested quite differently in early learning. With just 13 days left in the official legislative session, the clock is ticking for the two bodies to come to an agreement on their differences and settle on final budgets that will garner sufficient votes for passage.

We will continue to update the budget summary comparison chart as the process continues. We expect the Senate and House to pass their respective Operating budgets over the coming weekend.

One important tip to remember: it is protocol for the initially released budgets to include funding for bills passed out of the House of Origin. Typically, funding for a House bill would be included in the House budget, but not in the Senate budget, and visa versa. There are pros and cons to this approach in that each body’s budget holds “space” for funding of bills, but it also means – particularly in tighter fiscal years – there will likely need to be cuts during the negotiations to accommodate the funding of all of the bills that will make their way through the process.

Bills, Bills, Bills! Weds, Feb. 21 represented the final policy committee cutoff. Most early learning-related bills were heard – and approved – by the policy committee cutoff deadline. Start Early Washington updated its bill tracker on our state policy resources page to reflect the latest versions.

Continuing the theme of “no rest until interim” (sung to the tune of “no sleep till Brooklyn”), Thursday morning saw the start (again!) of marathon fiscal committee hearings in advance of the Feb. 26 opposite chamber fiscal committee cutoff. (Yet another weekend of work. Oh, joy.) And then it’s back to the floor where the bodies will consider bills from the opposite chamber. PHEW!

What’s on Deck for Next Week?

Hearings on Three Initiatives

This week, Democratic leadership announced public hearings on three of the six certified Initiatives to the Legislature Feb. 27-28, with the remaining three initiatives destined for voter determination in the November general election.

Scheduled public hearings include:

  • Initiative 2111 relating to limiting the ability of state and local governments to impose an income tax, will be heard in a Joint Hearing by the Senate Ways and Means and the House Finance Committees Feb. 27 at 12:30 p.m.
  • Initiative 2081 concerning parental rights and their children’s public school education, will be heard in a Joint Hearing by the Senate Early Learning and K-12 and the House Education Committees Feb. 28 at 8 a.m.
  • Initiative 2113 relating to vehicular pursuits by police officers, will be heard in a Joint Hearing by the Senate Law and Justice and the House Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry Committee Feb. 28 at 9 a.m.

Speculation around the Capitol campus is that following these public hearings, the Senate and House will vote to accept these three Initiatives to the Legislature, so they will not go before the voters.

There is question about how consideration of these initiatives will factor into the typical end-of-session busyness involving budget resolution, final passage of bills and concurrence in amendments made in the opposite chamber. One thing can be said about Olympia – it is never boring!

The remaining three initiatives still slated to head to the November ballot are:

The Feb. 16 edition of the Washington State Standard has a great piece by Jerry Cornfield covering the ins and outs of this issue. And refer to our Jan. 19 edition of Notes From Olympia for more information on the six initiatives and the initiative process.

Trivia Answer

A side-by-side of the razor clam and the geoduck
(Photo Credit: iStock.com via The Columbian)

Had Representative Chapman’s HB 1984 passed, the Pacific razor clam, aka the Siliqua patula, would have become the official state clam.

HB 1984 includes the statistic that people in Washington have harvested over 8 million clams annually in recent years, and that clam digging is an important activity—not just in terms of fun, but also as a source of food and cultural significance.

According to the Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Pacific razor clam is one of the “most sought after shellfish” in the state. The Department even developed this handy-dandy guide for clam digging. If you decide to try your hand at clam digging, be sure to check for any current razor clam season information, as well as the rules and regulations for sport fishing.

If this bill seems familiar, it’s because we’ve seen it before, but in a different form. Former Representative Brian Blake and current Representative Jim Walsh sponsored HB 1061 which was heard in both 2019 and 2020, but it didn’t quite make it to the finish line.

The Seattle Times credits the original effort to designate a state clam to David Berger, who wrote “Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest” and lobbied lawmakers for the designation. The Times also informed its readers that Berger was so passionate about this issue that he contacted Kelli Hughes-Ham, a sixth grade teacher at Hilltop Middle School in Ilwaco, Pacific County. She used the bill as an opportunity to teach her students about the legislative process, and her class made posters to encourage lawmakers to designate the razor clam as the official state clam. This is not unlike the efforts of Amy Cole’s former fourth grade class to make the Suciasaurus Rex the official state dinosaur, which Governor Inslee finally signed into law after a multi-year effort in 2023.

One of the sixth grade lobbyist posters in support of the Pacific razor clam
(Photo Credit: Kelli Hughes-Ham, courtesy of the Seattle Times)

Perhaps one of the reasons these bills haven’t made it to the governor’s desk is because this has become a hot topic at the Legislature—a battle of the bivalve mollusks if you will. Governor Inslee even referenced this heated debate at an event this week, saying that the Legislature shouldn’t rest until we have an official state clam!

While the Pacific razor clam has supporters, the geoduck is still a formidable opponent. Members of the House’s State Government and Tribal Relations Committee wanted to be sure to give proponents of the geoduck an opportunity to have their say as well. Both geoducks and clams are members of the bivalve mollusk family. For those of you who may need to Google it (I know I did), bivalve mollusks “have an external covering that is a two-part hinged shell that contains a soft-bodied invertebrate” according to the National Ocean Service. In this instance, an invertebrate is simply an animal that does not have a backbone. (This is just begging for a joke about politicians and backbones.)

Although the geoduck is already the school mascot of the Evergreen State College, we can see the argument for designating it as the state clam as well. Geoduck aquaculture is alive and well, frequenting approximately 200 square acres of tidelands in our state. Much of that tideland is privately owned, but the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has explored whether publicly owned state-lands could host geoduck farms. Washingtonians are not the only geoduck fans; they are a delicacy in Asia and can fetch a rate of up to $125 per pound. DNR reported in 2020 that the state exports around 11 million pounds each year. Clearly it plays a huge role in the state economy, and it is also allegedly the biggest shellfish found on Washington beaches.

What do you think our official state clam should be? If you have strong feelings, please let your lawmakers know (and us at Start Early WA – we’re quite curious)!

Resources:
Geoduck Aquaculture [Department of Natural Resources]
Razor clams, geoducks battle to be WA’s top clam [The Columbian]
Razor clams, geoducks battle to be WA’s top clam [The Seattle Times]
Razor clam seasons and beaches [Department of Fish & Wildlife]
Suciasaurus rex becomes official Washington state dinosaur after Gov. Inslee signs bill [NBC Right Now]

More Like This

On January 19, 2024, Start Early and the Educare Network submitted comments to the Office of Head Start (OHS) in response to its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) related to changes to the Head Start Program Performance Standards. The proposed changes reflect important potential changes centered around improving workforce compensation and benefits, integrating mental services more broadly in programs, and enhancing program quality initiatives focused on engaging families, health and safety, and better meeting community needs.

The submitted comments represent feedback from over 150 staff and parent leaders across Start Early and Educare schools. Overall, both Start Early and Educare Network organizations applaud these efforts to promote quality through support for the workforce and recommend OHS provide additional guidance to programs on the implementation of the proposed changes. As one staff member noted, “These changes seem to be a big step in creating equitable and inclusive educational programs for students, families and staff. It supports teaching staff’s wellbeing and keeping them from burnout, while also creating more opportunities for families furthest from educational justice.”

Additionally, in order to fully realize the benefits of the proposed updates to the performance standards, Start Early and the Educare Network encouraged OHS to consider the significant resources that programs will need to successfully enact these changes and also to address the need for a more urgent timeline for these changes given the current workforce crisis. Download the full text of the letter below.

For any questions on the comments, please reach out to Nadia Gronkowski at ngronkowski@startearly.org.

Lee En Español

Start Early thanks Illinois Governor JB Pritzker for again demonstrating his continued commitment to young children and their families by proposing a Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) state budget that includes funding increases for preschool, child care, Early Intervention and evidence-based home visiting programs as part of his multi-year Smart Start Illinois initiative. These increases are urgently needed to serve more children, invest in the early childhood workforce, and strengthen quality in Illinois programs. We also applaud Governor Pritzker for addressing racial disparities in maternal health care and the administration’s proposal to establish a child tax credit focused on our youngest children.   

The governor also highlighted his signature legislative proposal for the spring session, the creation of the Department of Early Childhood (SB3777/HB5451). Establishing the new agency in law is an important step in our work to transform the state’s early childhood system so it works better for children, families and providers alike. 

That said, Start Early is very concerned about the funding level proposed for the Early Intervention (EI) program. Record levels of service delays continue to plague the program, delays linked inextricably to a shrinking workforce. Without annual rate increases, we know providers will continue to leave the program, meaning more infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays will wait for months to receive the life-changing services they are entitled to by law. 

“To build the early childhood system our youngest learners deserve, it’s our belief that Illinois must approve significant increases in state funding every year for the core programs and services that infants, toddlers and preschoolers need,” said Ireta Gasner, Start Early vice president of Illinois policy.  “We thank Governor Pritzker for his thoughtful budget approach and look forward to working with the Illinois General Assembly to enact a budget that funds Smart Start Illinois and doesn’t leave infants and toddlers with disabilities and delays behind.” 

Take Action on Behalf of Illinois' Children and Families

Ask your legislators to prioritize investments in critical services for our youngest learners.

Act Now

The FY25 budget proposal includes the following funding proposals:  

  • $75 million increase for preschool services and prenatal-to-age 3 programs (11.1% over FY 2024) to create 5,000 new preschool slots and expand the Prevention Initiative (PI) program 
  • $5 million increase for evidence-based home visiting programs (21.8% over FY 2024) to serve hundreds of additional families and to increase wages for the incumbent workforce 
  • $158.5 million increase for Smart Start Workforce Compensation Grants to replace expiring federal funds and for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) to accommodate caseload growth (27.3% over FY 2024) 
  • $6 million increase for the Early Intervention program(3.8% over FY 2024) to accommodate expected caseload growth
    • Start Early and our advocate partners requested $40 million in new funding for the EI program. We strongly urge the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to increase provider reimbursement rates and wages for service coordinators Service delays are largely caused by provider shortages, and rates of delay are higher now than last year. A significant percentage of providers have indicated they would leave the program if additional rate increases were not approved in FY25.  
  • $5 million in state funding for the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) initiative for scholarships to replace expiring federal funds 
    • Start Early and our advocate partners requested $60 million in new state funding for ECACE to continue the program in its current form. Increased compensation and access to higher education are foundational to addressing early childhood workforce challenges.  

The budget also includes $13.2 million to seed the creation of the Department of Early Childhood. We agree with the administration that, if done well, a consolidated early childhood state agency will improve the experiences for families and programs alike. We look forward to engaging with the administration in the work ahead. 

Start Early is also eager to work with the Illinois General Assembly to approve an FY25 budget this spring that includes, at a minimum, the funding proposals laid out today and provides more significant increases for Early Intervention and ECACE scholarships. 

Join Start Early in calling on our state legislature to prioritize our youngest learners today and during this new legislative session.Our babies can’t wait. 

An unexpectedly snowy morning at the Capitol
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)

Trivia

Ranald MacDonald State Park, near the city of Curlew in Ferry County, is home to Washington’s smallest state park. What is the park’s size?

Week Highlights

Revenue report. On Feb. 14, the new State Economist Dave Reich presented his first Revenue Report to the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. This report provided updated revenue projections since the November forecast and the findings will be used to inform the budget proposals set for release in the next few days (see below for more information).

Despite revenue continuing to exceed projections, collection growth is slow. Revenue projections are adjusted as follows:

  • 2023-25 biennium: Increase of $122 million (0.2% increase)
  • 2025-27 biennium: Increase of $215 million (0.3% increase)

The Education Legacy Trust Account, which serves as an important fund source for early learning related programs, is projected to increase by $31 million for 2023-25 over November projections and by $6 million for 2025-27 over November projections.

It is also helpful to look at the overall projected budget levels as the operating budget is expected to grow as follows:

  • 2023-25 projected operating budget: $67 billion (Growth of 3.5% over the 2021-23 biennial budget)
  • 2025-27 projected operating budget: $71.7 billion (Growth of 7% over the 2023-25 biennial budget)

The next important data point that will influence budget writers is the caseload forecast, scheduled for Friday, Feb. 16 – right after the release of this newsletter. While the revenue forecast focuses on how much money budget writers can spend, the caseload forecast contains information on required expenditures (e.g., K-12 enrollment, Medicaid, prison populations, etc.). We will capture this information in next week’s update.

Senate Capital Budget released. On Thursday, the Senate released its proposed Supplemental Capital Budget. Notably, the budget documentation contains the names of both the Senate Ways and Means Committee Vice Chair (and lead on the Capital Budget) Senator Mark Mullet and the Republican Ranking Member Senator Mark Schoesler, signifying a bipartisan effort.

The budget summary document opens with two important notes:

  1. An error was discovered in the underlying capital gains revenue forecast from November 2023, necessitating a downward adjustment of more than $200 million for the 2023-25 biennium. This means there will be less funding available in the Supplemental Capital Budget.
  2. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the continuation of the Capital Gains tax and Climate Commitment Act given the November initiatives, the Senate Capital Budget does not assume revenue from either capital gains nor the Climate Commitment Act beyond 2024. If either (or both) of these initiatives do not pass, this revenue would be available for the 2025 Legislature.

Early Learning Facilities. The Senate Capital Budget includes a total of $8.8 million in new funding for early learning facilities, including:

  • $4.5M in competitive grants
  • $2.35M in minor renovation grants
  • $1.95M for designated projects
  • Note the proposed Supplemental Capital Budget bill also adds to existing prioritization for funds “facilities at risk of closure due to compliance with state licensure requirements.”

House of Origin Cutoff/Policy Committee return. Tuesday at 5 p.m. represented the House of Origin Floor cutoff; bills needed to pass out of their respective chamber by this deadline to be considered viable during this short session.

The contrast between the Senate and House of Representatives approaches to floor activity was striking. The Senate worked deliberatively and efficiently, making their way through their lists of bills, adjourning at reasonable hours every night and avoiding weekend work altogether. Conversely, the House put in two very late nights (working into the early morning hours). And while the House did end up passing 270 bills off their floor, I suspect many advocates lost sleep (and manicured fingernails) over whether the clock would run out before their bill came up for debate and a vote.

I do get a giggle when the House works past 10 p.m. and the Speaker announces the waiving of the rule requiring the wearing of jackets on the House Floor. That announcement always brings some murmurs of excitement, reminding me of my school days when indoor recess was called.

Despite the long hours, both the Senate and House were back at it Wednesday morning in policy committees as they considered bills passed out of the opposite chamber. With a short window before policy committee cutoff, there was little time to catch up on needed sleep!

What were the 5 p.m. bills? Last week, Notes From Olympia discussed the interest around the “5 p.m. bill,” which is often used as a strategy to run the more controversial bills that use up more clock time. As long as debate begins by 5 p.m. on cutoff day, it can go as long as it takes.

The House opted to go with ESHB 2114 related to rent stabilization as its 5 p.m. bill. Prime sponsored by Rep. Alvarado, ESHB 2114 is a top priority of House Democrats. In recognition that 35% of Washingtonians are renters, the bill aims to provide a number of protections for renters, including limiting rent increase to 7 % in any 12-month period.

The bill generated lengthy debate and ultimately passed on a 54-43 vote with four Democrats joining Republicans in voting no. It has an uncertain path in the Senate where a similar measure failed passage in the Senate Housing Committee earlier this session. For additional information on the rent stabilization effort, see this article in the Washington State Standard.

Over in the Senate, continuing with the deliberative and efficient approach I mentioned earlier, they wrapped up before 5 p.m. The Senate’s final bill related to … (drumroll please) establishment of the state nickname! By a 47-2 vote, the Senate approved SB 5595 which would adopt “the Evergreen State” as our state’s nickname. I thought it already was our nickname, but maybe this would make it official?

What’s on Deck for Next Week

Operating Budget and House Capital Budget releases. We’ve said multiple times that the last few weeks of the legislative session moves quickly – and we aren’t joking. We’ve also noted the Washington Legislature often works seven days a week – federal holidays included – also not a joke, as you will see below!

Week seven (the week of Feb. 19) is another big week as the Senate and House will unveil and receive public comment on their respective budget proposals. The proposed release dates are as follows:

Senate Operating Budget

  • Release: Sunday, Feb. 18 around 4 p.m.
  • Public Hearing: Monday, Feb. 19 at 4p.m. Public comment and testimony can be registered through the legislative website.
  • Executive Session (Vote): Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 3 p.m.

House Operating Budget

  • Release: Monday, Feb. 19 around 12 p.m.
  • Public Hearing: Monday, Feb. 19 at 4p.m. Public comment and testimony can be registered through the legislative website.
  • Executive Session (Vote): Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m.

Senate Capital Budget

  • Release: Thursday, Feb. 15
  • Public Hearing: Thursday, Feb. 15
  • Executive Session (Vote): Monday, Feb. 19 at 4 p.m.

House Capital Budget

Once both bodies finalize their respective budgets, they will negotiate the differences between the two approaches and present a compromise budget for consideration before the Senate and House before adjourning March 7.

Be sure to check Notes from Olympia next week for a rundown of all the details in both the Senate and House proposals. We are maintaining a chart on our website to track and compare the details.

Yet another cutoff and the return of marathon fiscal committee hearings. We are quickly moving from one cutoff to another. Next Wednesday is the final policy committee cutoff and focus will once again shift to fiscal committees for review of bills from the opposite chamber. This is all happening at a fast pace, so it is fortunate that the list of bills under consideration is considerably smaller!

Bill Tracker

Bills are moving quickly, but we’re still updating our bill tracker on our policy resources page on a weekly basis.

For the most current information, we recommend referring to the Legislative website. You will notice the number of active bills continues to decline as the legislative session progresses.

Trivia Answer

Ranald MacDonald State Park measures in at a whopping 100 square feet!

According to the trusty Google, this state park is equal in size to:

  • 2 king size mattresses
  • 5 front doors
  • 2 ½ United States flags
  • ¾ of a parking space

Ranald MacDonald’s grave on-site at the park
(Photo Credit: Washington State Parks Foundation)

As the name indicates, the park honors the late Ranald MacDonald, the son of Koale’zoa (also known as Princess Raven or Princess Sunday) of the Chinook tribe and Archibald Macdonald, a chief trader at Hudson Bay Trading Company. Ranald Macdonald’s claim to fame is that he was the first native English speaker (and Pacific Northwesterner) to teach English in Japan.

MacDonald’s father’s business in the fur trading industry piqued his interest in exploring the East and led to him becoming a whaler. Allegedly, MacDonald wondered if there was any relationship or connection between Japanese and Indigenous people in the Americas (perhaps based on his mother’s roots?) and also has an interest in teaching the Japanese people about international trade. Up to that point, however, Japan’s borders had been closed. To gain access to Japan, Macdonald went so far as to sabotage his own boat by faking a shipwreck. After being rescued by local fishermen, he was imprisoned for illegal entry into Nagasaki.

MacDonald eventually returned to Canada, initially to sell mining supplies to those hoping to strike it rich in the Cariboo Gold Rush. Although he had enthusiasm to start this store from business owners in Victoria, he did not receive support from the British Columbian government and his business never took off. But that didn’t deter him from becoming a miner himself!

Eventually, MacDonald fell ill and his niece, Jenny Nelson, traveled from Curlew, Washington over Sherman Pass to the cabin MacDonald had built on the west side of the Columbia River to care for him and bring him home to Washington to rest—a long way to go in a covered wagon! His grave is preserved in the form of the small park we see today, and MacDonald is remembered for his desire to explore and teach (even if he did break some rules along the way).

Ranald MacDonald, 1824-1984
(Photo Credit: Ferry County Historical Society)

Ranald MacDonald State Park is one of our state’s 200+ State Parks (212, to be exact). Washington has the third most state parks of all the states (with only California and New York ahead of us). And while we’re talking about parks … did you know that you can rent a yurt, a cabin, or even a vacation home through the Washington State Department of Parks and Recreation? If you want to get in touch with your inner Leslie Knope (or just get into the great outdoors), here are the 2023 rates. Hopefully 2024 rates will be available soon.

A yurt at Grayland Beach State Park
(Photo Credit: Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, WA and its representatives)

Here’s a full list of our beautiful state parks, The Washington State Park Foundation also has an interactive map.

In our research for this week’s trivia, we found some interesting factoids about other state parks that we will tuck away for future trivia questions. As a teaser, we can share one state park ranger became the inspiration for an infamous character on a beloved 1960s sitcom. Cliffhanger!

A shoutout to TVW for the prompt for this week’s trivia question. TVW ran 24/7 during the period of Floor activity and when the Senate and House are in caucus, TVW content fills the time, including their overview of state parks!

Resources
Ranald MacDonald Gravesite [Ferry County Historical Society]
Ranald MacDonalds Grave [Washington State Parks Foundation]
SMALLEST – State Park in Washington [waymarking.com]
U.S. States Ranked by State and National Park Coverage [playgroundequipment.com]
Washington Smallest State Park Could Fit in Your Bedroom [keyw.com]

More Like This

A calm evening at the Capitol (on the outside, at least!)
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)

Trivia

How many Black legislators have served, and are currently serving, in the Washington State Legislature?

Highlights of Week

We’ve passed another cutoff! After a marathon four days of public hearings and executive sessions, the Legislature hit the House of Origin fiscal committee cutoff this past Monday. Bills that did not pass out of fiscal committees are considered “dormant” and not eligible for further consideration, unless deemed “Necessary to Implement the Budget” by legislative leadership.

For advocates, it was a rollercoaster weekend as email inboxes pinged with updates of bills getting scheduled (exhilaration) and, sometimes, bills removed from calendars (despair). In a small number of cases, bills were scheduled for a vote in time for the Monday deadline only to have the Chair announce at the hearing that they were withdrawn from consideration (the depths of heartbreak).

As one example of the volume of work, the Senate Ways and Means Committee agenda had 82 bills on its executive session calendar this past Monday and the House Appropriations Committee had 52.

Attention turns to Floor action. There is little to no downtime in a short session of a part-time Legislature. Starting Tuesday morning, attention shifted to the Senate and House chambers where lawmakers began the process of debating and voting on bills in advance of the Feb. 13 House of Origin cutoff.

I have mentioned the “filter” process built into our legislative system and a very important step in this process happens prior to Floor debate and consideration. The Senate and House Rules Committees consider the bills passed by the policy and fiscal committees and decide which bills advance to their respective Floors. Unlike other committees, these meetings are not scheduled at regular times. One Rules Committee notice this week stated that the meeting would commence “20 minutes after going at ease for lunch.” Prior to the pandemic, these Rules committee meetings were not covered by TVW, but now they are available.

To get to the Floor for debate and vote, a bill must first be “pulled” from the Rules Committee. There are various ways this occurs, and the Senate and the House have variations in their processes. In most Rules Committee meetings, there are “leadership” or “package” pulls where a list of bills is presented for consideration for an up or down vote. There are also “consent” pulls where bills with minimal opposition are listed together and voted on at once. Finally, there are “individual” pulls where each Rules Committee member is assigned a certain number of “pulls” per meeting (e.g., each Rules Committee member is allowed to suggest one bill to advance to the Floor and the Rules members vote to approve that recommendation). Despite the various opportunities for bills to be “pulled” from Rules, not all bills will advance from Rules to the Floor and advocates get more nervous as the week goes on and their bills remain in Rules.

Valentine heart candiesHere’s to hoping for only affirming and positive messages during the stressful period of Floor activity.
(Photo Credit: Molly Champion, image modified by Jess Galvez)

Stayin Alive, Stayin Alive …

The list of active early learning related legislation is much smaller at this stage in the process—post the initial policy and fiscal cutoffs. Be sure to check out our bill tracker on our policy resources page for more detail, but below is a quick look at the bills still moving their way through:

House Bills

  • SHB 1945 (Alvarado) Makes children eligible for ECEAP and Early ECEAP if they receive Basic Food benefits and simplifies income eligibility for Working Connections Child Care (WCCC)
  • HB 2111 (Nance) Makes technical changes to the WCCC statute
  • SHB 2124 (Eslick) Changes WCCC work requirements to allow for family participation in Early ECEAP or Early Head Start and allows WCCC eligibility for ECEAP/Early ECEAP employees if their household income is below 85% of the state median income
  • SHB 2195 (Callan) Modifies eligible uses of the Ruth LeCocq Kagi early learning facilities development account (ELF)
  • SHB 2322 (Senn) Directs the Office of Financial Management to study existing employer-provided child care programs and provide recommendations for how to expand child care options through businesses
  • 2SHB 2447 (Senn) Changes the removal standard for children regarding out-of-home placement due to the use or possession of a high potency synthetic opioid and provides targeted, voluntary home visiting and child care slots and other supports for families

Senate Bills

  • SSB 5774 (Billig) Requires the Department of Children, Youth and Families to have the ability to conduct timely fingerprint background checks in its early learning and child care offices
  • SB 5941 (Wilson, C.) Makes technical changes to the WCCC statutes
  • SSB 6038 (Wilson, C.) Waives child care licensing fees and expands the child care business and occupations tax child care exemption
  • 2SSB 6109 (Wilson, C.) Changes the removal standard for children regarding out-of-home placement due to the use or possession of a high potency synthetic opioid and provides targeted, voluntary home visiting and child care slots and other supports for families

What’s on Deck for Next Week?

It’s all about the money, money, money. On Valentine’s Day, the new State Economist Dave Reich is set to present his first Revenue Forecast to the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. This revenue projection will be used to finalize the 2024-25 Supplemental Budget. It is important to remember that Washington state requires a balanced four-year budget, so budget writers will also be considering out-year impacts of their investments and out-year revenue outlooks.

We expect to see the Senate and House operating, capital and transportation (remember our state adopts THREE budgets) shortly after the revenue report. In fact, the Senate Ways and Means Committee has a Feb. 15 public hearing scheduled to receive comments on its proposed Supplemental Capital Budget, so we can presume their proposed Capital budget will be released sometime that day.

The last few weeks of the legislative session move very fast.

Late nights and weekend work ahead. While most Washingtonians will be preparing their favorite appetizers for Sunday’s Usher concert and viewing of expensive commercials, those involved with the legislative process could be engaged in Sunday Floor activity in advance of the Tuesday, Feb. 13 House of Origin cutoff (the House of Representatives does have a 1 p.m. hold for possible caucus and session). Most likely, though, after a lot of late nights, there may be a break on Sunday so folks can find out if a certain someone was able to arrive from Japan in time for the big game.

In all seriousness, the periods of Floor activity are incredibly intense, with a lot of late nights. Sometimes when I am on my early morning walks, the lights in the Legislative Building are still on, indicating one chamber has pulled an all-nighter and is still deliberating. Tempers get short and bills that had been on a smooth glide could get held up for no apparent reason.

One of the traditions during floor cutoff is identification of the “5 p.m. bill.” Often the 5 p.m. bill is a controversial or consequential bill because if debate starts before the 5 p.m. deadline, it can go on as long as it takes. Occasionally, the final bill can be a “nothing burger,” but more often than not, it is one of greater consequence and there will be murmuring about what the 5 p.m. bill will be in both chambers. We will report back next week.

Groundhog Day? Immediately after the Feb. 13 House of Origin cutoff, we will dive right back into policy committee work. This time, policy committees in the opposite chamber will review the bills still alive in the process passed by the opposing chamber. This is a very compressed timeline with only six days of policy committee hearings and a Feb. 21 opposite house policy committee cutoff. I mentioned last week one of the benefits of introducing companion bills is socializing a concept in the opposite chamber. This benefit becomes clear in these tight time periods.

Bill Tracker

Our bill tracker is updated each Thursday and linked on our policy resources page. Because bills move quickly, the tracker may not have the most recent updates, but this information can be found on the legislative website.

Trivia Answer

To date, Washington voters have elected a total of 29 Black legislators, including 11 Black legislators serving today:

  • Senate: Senators John Lovick and T’wina Nobles
  • House: Representatives April Berg, Brandy Donaghy, Debra Entenman, David Hackney, Melanie Morgan, Julia Reed, Kristine Reeves, Chipalo Street and Jamila Taylor

Last year, the Washington State Legislative Black Caucus filmed this message in honor of Black History Month.

Washington’s first Black legislator was William Owen Bush of Thurston County, elected to the first State Legislature in 1889. He was also the first of four Black Republicans who served in the Legislature. One of the bills he sponsored—HB 90—laid the foundation for a college emphasizing the study of agriculture that would later become Washington State University. To learn more about Representative Bush and his father George Bush, the first Black pioneer in the Washington Territory, visit our trivia in this throwback edition of Notes From Olympia.

While each of the 29 Black legislators who served in the Washington state Legislature has unique stories, for this week’s trivia, we wanted to focus on the first Black woman elected to the State Senate, Senator Rosa Franklin.

Senator Rosa Franklin, 2009
(Photo Credit: Washington State Legislature)

Born in 1927 to a “homemaker mother and a corn farmer father” in rural South Carolina, Senator Franklin was the fifth of 11 children. Franklin attended Good Samaritan Waverly Nursing School in Columbia, South Carolina, a school built “by African Americans, for African Americans, to meet the healthcare needs of the community.” Following graduation, Senator Franklin began what would become a 42-year career in nursing.

During her time in nursing school, Senator Franklin and her friends would go to the United States Organization (USO) club to sing and dance when they were not in school or studying. There she met James Franklin who would become her husband for 70 years until his death in 2021. She considered her 70-year marriage one of her greatest achievements!

The Franklins moved to Tacoma in 1954 when her husband was stationed at Fort Lewis. During this time, Senator Franklin pursued her bachelor’s degree at what would become the University of Puget Sound. She had intended to obtain a degree in nursing, but she found the coursework duplicative of what she had already taken at Good Samaritan in South Carolina. She ended up earning a double major in English and Biology.

Senator Franklin ultimately spent more than 40 years in health care, focusing on women’s health and the health needs of the Black community. She also worked with disabled children and seniors in addition to extensive community involvement, which led her to politics.

She began her foray into politics with runs for the Tacoma City Council in 1973 and 1987, both of which were unsuccessful. In 1990, the Chair of the Pierce County Democratic Party convinced Franklin to run for the House of Representatives, and, using her rec room as the campaign headquarters, she leveraged her community relationships and connections to prevail over the person viewed as the natural successor to the seat. Realizing she could not continue her nursing career and serve in the Legislature, Franklin retired from nursing (with many, many well-deserved accolades).

After serving one term in the House, Franklin was appointed to the State Senate after the unexpected death of Senator A. L. “Slim” Rasmussen. Franklin was the top choice to fill the seat, but she only agreed to serve if she could sit on the Senate Health Care Committee – her top legislative priority.

During her time in the Senate, Senator Franklin is credited with sponsoring the Washington Housing Policy Act in 1993 which established the Affordable Housing Advisory Board. One has to assume Senator Franklin recognized the important connection between housing and health. She is also credited with groundbreaking policy work to address the intersections of health, race and environmental issues.

Her fellow Senators selected her to serve as the Senate Pro Tempore which meant she presided over the Senate when the Lieutenant Governor was absent for whatever reason. Notably, Senator Franklin was the first African American woman in the United States to serve in this position in her state Senate. Senator Franklin was known by her peers in the Senate as “the second fastest gavel.” Clearly a woman of efficiency!

Senator Franklin retired from the Legislature in 2010 and, in her retirement message, she wrote she planned to “… continue working to make our communities, state and nation live up to the principles on which they were founded, and that the constitution represents all of us and not just a select few.”

Resources:
Bush, William Owen (1832-1907) [HistoryLink.org]
Black Legislators of Washington State: Firsts & Statistics [Washington State Library]
Franklin, Rosa Gourdine (b. 1927) [HistoryLink.org]
New Data Indicates That Washington’s Legislature Became More Representative [South Seattle Emerald]
State Legislator Demographics [National Conference of State Legislators – 2020]
The State of Black Representation in the US Today [Public Wise]

More Like This

The Tivoli Fountain Replica is showing off on a sunny Tuesday (the original Tivoli Fountain is in Copenhagen!)
(Photo Credit: Zoë Erb)

Trivia

The Winged Victory Monument on the Northeast side of the Capitol campus pays tribute to what group of individuals?

Week 4 Highlights

Dairy Day!

In years past, I have written about the joy brought to the Capitol campus on the “food days” sponsored by various food associations. Not only has January been a long and rainy month, but it has also been devoid of any free food days.

Thankfully, our dark days ended Feb. 1 when the Washington State Dairy Federation sponsored “Dairy Day.” The kind folks at the Dairy Federation shared a variety of offerings ranging from yogurt to cheeses to numerous ice cream options. I cannot think of a better way to turn a post-policy committee cutoff frown upside down than free ice cream!

Policy Committee Cutoff

Wednesday marked the first milestone of the 2024 short session with the House of Origin policy committee cutoff. Bills that did not pass out of policy committee by this deadline are considered “dormant” (a more strength-based term than “dead” that I’ve picked up to describe bills that are not advancing). Many policy committees held jam-packed hearings this week to hear, amend and vote upon the many bills before the Legislature this short session.

Some other items of note:

  • This is a particularly important time to keep an eye on adopted amendments or substitutes as the focus of bills can change on a dime. It is not unusual to see the scope of legislation shift to keep a bill moving, or scaled back to minimize cost, for example. I will note a couple of examples below where amendments significantly shifted the focus of a bill.
  • “This bill’s a mover!” It is not uncommon for “companion” bills to be introduced (identical bills in the Senate and the House) on a specific issue. These companions provide an opportunity for an idea to be socialized in both chambers with the intention of increasing the likelihood of its passage. As time becomes scarcer as the session progresses, it is typical for one of the vehicles to be identified as the “mover,” and the other bill to go dormant. An example of companion bills where a mover has been identified is HB 2111 (Nance), a technical clean-up bill related to Working Connections Child Care statute. In this case, HB 2111 is the mover, and its companion, SB 5941 is dormant. If you are advocating or speaking to certain bills, it is helpful to double check you have the “mover” identified.

We have adjusted our bill tracker on our state policy resources page to reflect the bills advancing at this point of session. We moved the “dormant” bills to a separate chart to make it easier to identify the smaller group of active bills.

A Recap of Bill Activity

Fentanyl/Opioid Crisis and Family Supports

A primary focus this legislative session has been the impacts of the national fentanyl/opioid crisis on families. Two pieces of legislation – SB 6109 (Sen. C. Wilson and Boehnke) and HB 2447 (Rep. Senn) are the primary vehicles for conversations around fentanyl and child removal standards as well as the need for additional services and supports for families experiencing substance use disorder.

The first sections of both bills look to address what level of consideration should be given to the risks of fentanyl in decisions about whether a child should remain in the home of a parent. These are weighty and critical decisions as lawmakers aim to balance keeping children safe while avoiding unnecessary family separation. Expect these discussions to continue as lawmakers continue to grapple with this important decision.

Both bills contain “services and supports” for families in the second sections. Although these services and supports are not in complete alignment, they are very similar. For example, both bills:

  1. Expand inpatient substance use disorder treatment beds to include family-centered treatment where children can remain with their parent(s).
  2. Provide contracted child care slots for infants engaged in child protective services.
  3. Launch contracted, targeted home visiting slots for families experiencing substance use disorder.

Additionally, both bills look to leverage the skills and expertise of public health nurses by connecting them with families to provide education on the risks of high-potency synthetic opioids and child health and safety practices. Further, the House bill contains a provision to fund a pilot project in two communities for Promotoras to provide culturally sensitive, lay health education for the Latinx community and act as liaisons between their community, health professionals and human and social service organizations.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee heard SB 6109 Jan. 29 and, of this writing, it has not been scheduled for an Executive Session. The House Human Services, Youth and Early Learning Committee passed HB 2447 Jan. 30 and it has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

Non-Standard Hour Child Care

The Senate Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to hear SB 6171 (Sen. L. Wilson) Feb. 3. I highlight this bill as an example of one that underwent a significant change in its policy committee.

As introduced, the bill would have called for a study on child care for criminal justice personnel. The Senate Human Services Committee did not consider the original bill, but instead heard and passed a substitute bill which calls for DCYF to conduct a feasibility study and provide cost estimates for a pilot program to award start-up grants in jurisdictions with over 100,000 people to assist with establishing and operating child care programs and services with nonstandard hours for the minor children of individuals in high demand professions including, but not limited to, peace officers and criminal justice personnel, firefighters, medical professionals in rural areas, and construction workers during shift work and abnormal work hours.

Department of Children, Youth and Families Oversight Board

HB 2185 (Reps. Dent and Senn) is scheduled to be heard in the House Appropriations Committee Feb. 2, with an Executive Session (or vote) scheduled for Feb. 5.

This bill is designed to make changes to the make-up and charge of the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) Oversight Board. This is another bill that experienced changes from its introduction after review in the House Human Services, Youth and Early Learning Committee.

Among other provisions, the substitute maintains the transfer of authority for the Oversight Board from the Governor’s Office to the Legislature, makes further modifications to the Oversight Board’s membership and removes the authority of the Oversight Board to overturn, change, or uphold decisions made by (DCYF) licensors regarding adverse child care licensing decisions not involving a violation of health and safety standards.

What’s On Deck Next Week

As the great philosopher Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I’m not sure if there’s an apt analogy there, but the legislative session does move darn fast. Especially in a short session.

Fiscal Committee Cutoff and then Floor Session!

By the time you receive the next Notes from Olympia, we will have already made it through the fiscal committee cutoff of Feb. 5 and will be knee deep in legislative Floor activity. To prepare for this fiscal cutoff, legislative fiscal committees (primarily the Senate Ways and Means and House Appropriations Committees) will have considered all bills with a fiscal impact. Expect many of the bills that do make it out of these fiscal committees to be amended to include language conditioning their implementation on funding being provided in the supplemental budget, or “subject to appropriation.”

The next big cutoff is the House of Origin Floor cutoff Feb. 13 and that is when all bills must pass out of their house of origin. This is a particularly stressful time for advocates because, unlike policy and fiscal committees, no calendars announcing meeting times or agendas are available. This requires a lot of waiting around on the third floor of the Legislative Building, trying to track down any tidbits of information.

During Floor activity, “clock time” is a strategy often deployed by the minority party who may not want to see bills passed, so they might offer up voluminous amendments or designate a number of their caucus members to speak to bills, all to eat up time. This influences the majority party’s strategy of scheduling bills for a Floor vote. If they schedule too many controversial bills, that will limit the time available for other important bills.

We will see how it plays out this year, but I’m confident in saying that folks in all corners of the Legislative Building will be tired and grumpy during the period of Floor activity!

What is NTIB?

The initials NTIB look like they are part of a National Transportation agency, but it is a very important term to the Washington state legislative process that means “Necessary to Implement the Budget.”

Like the English language, the legislative process has exceptions to its rules. Bills deemed Necessary to Implement the Budget (or NTIB) are exempt from the cutoff deadlines due to budgetary impacts. These bills still must go through each of the steps – they must, for example, receive a Floor vote (no skipping steps!). NTIB status is granted by legislative leadership and is not broadly given. Typically, bills that are NTIB are ones that are more controversial and/or under negotiation.

Bill Tracker

Our bill tracker is updated each Thursday and linked on our policy resources page. Because bills move quickly, the tracker may not have the most recent updates, but this information can be found on the legislative website.

Trivia Answer

The sun shines on Nike and her entourage
(Photo Credit: Zoë Erb)

Winged Victory, or Nike (νίκη being the official Greek name), pays homage to the 67,106 Washingtonians who served during World War I, including the more than 1,600 soldiers who died during the war.

The figures surrounding Nike represent members of the Navy, the Army, the Marines and a Red Cross nurse. Governor Ernest Lister proposed the statue’s creation in 1919 and the Legislature allocated $50,000 for its construction (equivalent to about $900,000 today). It turned out this was not enough funding and the total cost ended up closer to $100,000, funded by federal grants and through the sale of state lands.

Winged Victory has been standing on the northeast side of the legislative building at the Capitol since its dedication May 30, 1938. Sculpted in bronze, the 12-foot statue sits on top of a 10-foot granite base. Its sculptor, Alonzo Victor Lewis, was subsequently named Washington Sculptor Laureate by the State Legislature.

Notably, Nike holds an olive branch in her right hand, usually symbolizing peace. The ancient Greeks and Romans also associated it with supplication—praying for something from the gods (whether it be peace, prosperity, etc.).

The inscriptions on the modern, Washington State Nike are as follows:

  • East face: the WA State Seal, “To the memory of the citizens of the State of Washington who lost their lives in the service of the United States during the World War 1917 – 1918.”
  • North face: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.”
  • West face: “Their sacrifice was to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the life of the world.”
  • South face: “They fought to safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom, and democracy.”

In addition to the statue of Nike, Washington State’s Capitol Campus includes memorials for those who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, as well as those who received Prisoner of War/Missing in Action and Congressional Medals of Honor.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, at least 12 other states also have statues dedicated to war veterans on their capital campus, including: Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. If you’re curious to learn more about these statues, each state has its own veteran’s affairs page with more information.

Postcard of “Winged Victory” Unveiling: 1938
(Photo Courtesy: Washington State Archives)

Resources:
Winged Victory Monument [WA State Department of Enterprise Services]
Winged Victory [olympiahistory.com]
Winged Victory Monument (WWI) [The Clio]
At the state Capitol, a longstanding tribute to lives lost in WWI [WA State Standard]
Veteran’s Memorials on Capitol Campus [WA State Legislature]
Popular State Veteran Monuments [US Department of Veteran Affairs]

More Like This

The Illinois Policy Team at Start Early is pleased to release our annual Illinois Legislative Agenda, a snapshot of the budget requests and legislative priorities for which Start Early will be advocating during the spring 2024 legislative session in the state.

With the new legislative session underway, our team is focused on moving forward funding requests and legislation that will support families and providers across our early childhood system.

Our goals for the year include:

  • Growing and strengthening the state’s early care and education system through an FY25 budget that includes the funding levels outlined in Year Two of Governor Pritzker’s Smart Start Illinois proposal
  • Supporting legislation to create a new unified early childhood program
  • Expanding Child Care Assistance Program eligibility for child care teachers and staff who live at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level
  • Creating a state Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program

Washington state capitol building A foggy and misty start to week three
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)

Trivia!

State Symbols. Representative Peter Abbarno’s HB 1977 would designate what type of stone as Washington’s official state rock?

Week 3 Highlights

And Then There Were Five

This week, Secretary of State Steve Hobbs notified the Legislature that signature verification and certification had been completed for two additional Initiatives to the Legislature, bringing the total number of certified Initiatives to the Legislature to five. Last week’s Notes From Olympia shares a deeper dive on Initiatives to the Legislature.

The two added Initiatives to the Legislature relate to repealing the state’s capital gains tax and prohibiting the state, counties, cities or other local governments from instituting an income tax.

The remaining potential Initiative to the Legislature still in the process of signature verification (as of this writing) relates to the repeal of the state’s long-term care insurance program.

On to Bills

With the first cutoff date rapidly approaching Jan. 31, dreams are being made – or broken – by the policy committee hearing schedules. We are at the point of session where bills are constantly being added to (and removed from) committee schedules. Schedules are very fluid, and it is not uncommon for policy committee agendas to simply read “bills referred to committee” with the actual agenda items filled in throughout the week. This can make it challenging for planners like me as well as for those who are anxious to see if their bills are going to receive a hearing. It is also important to know that not every bill receives a public hearing and not every bill that receives a public hearing will advance to executive session – or a vote.

The legislative process is designed to narrow down the number of issues under consideration via these cutoff deadlines. There is not enough time – or funding – to allow for all the great ideas to make it through the process each year. While this is frustrating, this reality also provides opportunities to fine tune ideas and build support and awareness when groups return in future years. (I’m trying to put a positive spin on the disappointment we all feel when our passion projects do not advance).

Tax Policy and Child Care. This week, fiscal committees heard three bills related to child care and tax policy:

  • On Jan. 23, the House Finance Committee heard HB 1716 by Representative Rule which would establish a Business & Occupations (B&O) Tax Credit for businesses that provide child care assistance to employees.
  • The House Finance Committee also heard HB 2322 by Representative Senn which would require employers that receive a (B&O) tax preferences from the state provide child care for their employees.
  • Finally, the Senate Ways and Means Committee is slated to hear SB 6038 by Senator C. Wilson Jan. 25. SB 6038 would both eliminate child care licensing fees and provide a tax exemption for businesses that receive income from child care.

At the hearings, proponents spoke to the importance of affordable, accessible child care, emphasizing the state’s child care crisis is a significant workforce issue. According to the Washington State Child Care Collaborative Task Force, in 2020, 71% of parents cited difficulty in finding child care that impacted their ability to work. These proposals reflect differing approaches to tackling this crisis from the tax policy standpoint. As of this writing, none of the bills have been scheduled for an Executive Session.

Late Week Two Activity

Early Learning Facilities

On Jan. 18, the House Capital Budget Committee heard HB 2195 by Representative Callan which would make changes to the Ruth LeCocq Kagi Early Learning Facilities Fund (ELF). The bill would take a number of actions, including changing the distribution of any capital gains tax revenue received above $500 million so that 25% of the overage would be directed to the Early Learning Facilities Fund and 75% to the Common School Construction Fund; removing ELF award limits; adding translation services as an eligible administrative cost; prioritizing applications that are ready for construction, renovation, purchase, or repair; and eliminating the match requirement for ELF facilities collocated with housing developments, allowing them to receive state funding for 90% of the project cost.

The bill received widespread support at the hearing from the child care community, with testimony leading off from former Representative Ruth Kagi who spoke about the genesis of the ELF and the critical need for early learning facilities. Two early learning providers who had previously received ELF funding spoke to the importance of the fund, particularly in a field with narrow profit margins. One provider noted her construction costs had jumped substantially from the start of her project to now, highlighting the need to adjust the caps on grant award levels.

Those who testified “other” or “con” expressed concerns about the sustainability of the funding source and those affiliated with the K-12 system were concerned about diverting capital funding from the Common School Construction Fund.

As of this writing, HB 2195 has not been scheduled for Executive Session.

What’s on Deck for Next Week?

As noted above, policy committee cutoff is scheduled for Jan. 31. The Legislature will then swiftly shift into fiscal committee work – with weekend hearings scheduled – to meet the quick turnaround of a Feb 5 fiscal committee cutoff. This fast turnaround requires us all to be on our “A” games, making sure bills with a fiscal impact not only get scheduled for a public hearing in a fiscal committee, but are also scheduled for executive session (or vote).

Fiscal committees are another place where great ideas get squashed or receive a “haircut.” It is not unusual to see amendments added to bills scaling back proposals, and nearly every bill passed out of a fiscal committee will include a caveat “subject to the appropriation of funding…” This condition means implementation of the policy is dependent upon the item being included in the adopted budget. This gives lawmakers the ability to keep a bill moving while making its implementation dependent upon funding.

SSB 5774 by Senators Billig and C. Wilson is slated to be heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee Jan. 29. SSB 5774 aims to utilize DCYF local offices for fingerprint background checks as a way to ease the backlog and ease access, particularly in rural areas. It was amended in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee to lower its fiscal impact by limiting the number of DCYF staff and offices impacted.

Child Care Licensing, Educational Requirements and Siting

On Jan. 30, the House Human Services, Youth and Early Learning Committee will hear two bills related to child care licensing and educational requirements.

  • The first bill, HB 2046, with Rep. Dent as the prime sponsor, would make changes to educational requirements and licensing for providers in child care deserts in rural communities (as defined by DCYF).
    • Specifically, DCYF would be required to contract with a nonprofit focused on child care to develop a handbook for child care providers that focuses on the health, safety and nutritional needs of children; how to establish a nurturing relationship with children; and the fundamentals of instruction. Child care providers in these rural counties identified as child care deserts would be exempt from educational requirements and instead would be required to read this handbook and attest it was read.
    • The bill would further make changes to class sizes and ratios in these rural counties designated as child care deserts, changing the class size for preschoolers to 21 and the provider to student ratio to 1:11. For school-age, the class size would change to 31 and the provider to student ratio to 1:16. Finally, the requirement for licensed indoor program space would change to 34 square feet per child in attendance.
  • The second bill being heard in this House committee Jan. 30 is HB 2179 by Rep. Couture. This measure would allow counties with a population of less than 100,000 to license and regulate child care centers and family child care homes from July 1, 2025 through June 30, 2032. The bill outlines the components the local licensing and regulation must cover. Further, the bill would require a third-party assessment of any local licensing and regulation.

Neither bill has an Executive Session scheduled as of this writing.

Over in House Local Government

  • HB 2468 by Representative Jacobsen is scheduled for a Public Hearing Jan. 30 and Executive Session Jan. 31. This bill aims to streamline local permitting and zoning requirements in order to allow for siting of child care centers near elementary schools.

Bill Tracker

Our bill tracker is updated each Thursday and linked on our policy resources page. Because bills move quickly, the tracker may not have the most recent updates, but this information can be found on the legislative website.

Trivia Answer

HB 1977, sponsored by Representative Peter Abbarno, would make Tenino sandstone the official state stone. This bill rocks! (Come on, that’s some low hanging fruit!).

Many of the buildings around the Capitol (including the Insurance Building pictured above) are built using Tenino sandstone, our potential future state rock!
(Photo Credit: Zoë Erb)

I will admit that when I saw the title of this bill, it did give me pause. I am familiar with state flowers, state flags, even state songs. But, apparently, 29 states have a designated state rock and, if HB 1977 is enacted, Washington would become state #30. As Zoë and I looked into the background on this bill, we learned there’s more to the story – as there often is – with historic, economic and geographic significance.

Tenino sandstone hails from the city of Tenino in Southern Thurston County, part of Representative Abbarno’s district. Incorporated in 1906, the City of Tenino has a current population of just under 2,000 residents today.

Sandstone is prevalent in many areas of southwestern Washington. In our research, we learned sandstone is easy to cut but, after being exposed to air, it becomes hard, making it ideal to use as a building material. Due to its availability and suitability for constructing buildings, sandstone became a key part of the Tenino economy with the establishment of sandstone quarries. (Honestly, I now want to try to cut some Tenino sandstone. Is it like butter? I must find out).

In the late 1880s/early 1900s, Tenino sandstone was commonly used in building construction, but its popularity increased after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and fires in Seattle and other major cities. This is because as earthquakes and fires ravaged cities, buildings constructed with Tenino sandstone persevered. That’s PR you just cannot buy!

Bringing it back to a tie to Olympia, Tenino sandstone was used in the construction of the Washington state Legislative Building, and when the building was damaged after the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, members of the Tenino Stone Carvers Guild assisted in the Capitol repair. Zoë and I chatted with a kind Capitol docent Richard who shared with us that you can view the sandstone on the external portions of the Legislative and other campus buildings. While the inside of the Legislative building is clearly marble, the outside has a sandstone look to it.

Notably, Tenino sandstone is present in the “other Washington” as it was used to carve the stone that represents Washington state at the Washington Monument.

In a press release, the bill sponsor Representative Peter Abbarno expressed the rationale behind his bill as: “There are so many buildings and monuments in the state of Washington that were built and designed with Tenino sandstone. You can’t visit the Capitol without seeing Tenino sandstone or the craftsmanship of the Tenino Stone Carvers Guild. It is fitting to designate Tenino sandstone as our ‘state stone.’”

HB 1977 was referred to the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee. It has not had any movement, so it is unlikely to advance in 2024, but the readers of this newsletter are more knowledgeable about Tenino sandstone! Thank you, Representative Abbarno.

Three more fun facts about the City of Tenino:

  • One of the largest explosive detonations in state history occurred here. In 1912, two trains filled with black powder and dynamite were used to create the “big blast,” producing approximately 500,000 tons of rockfall. The sandstone boulders were apparently needed for a jetty in Grays Harbor.
  • Tenino’s other claim to fame is its creation of its own local currency (in the form of wooden money), to help locals get through the Great Depression. (Now there’s a future trivia item).
  • Today, you can swim in the old quarry in the city park, the site of the old Tenino Stone Company. ROAD TRIP!

Former Tenino Stone Company Quarry
Current Site of Tenino Quarry Pool
(Photo Credit: City of Tenino)

Resources: The Department Of Natural Resources: “Tenino”; Representative Abbarno’s Newsletter: “Tenino sandstone built Washington, and should be the state rock says Rep. Peter Abbarno”

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Expecting parents in nearly 60% of counties in Illinois live in maternity care deserts, and after bringing home a newborn, essential services can sometimes be even more difficult to access. Regardless of zip code or family income, when welcoming a new baby, all parents and families could benefit from additional encouragement and support. That is why Illinois is working to build the necessary public infrastructure and funding systems to scale Universal Newborn Support Systems (UNSS) that provide free, voluntary, short-term home visiting and referral services to every family in the state at the birth of a new baby, to make connections to the supportive services and resources they may need and want. 

While the ultimate goal of UNSS is to be universally available within every community, scaling UNSS programs is not likely to happen everywhere at once. Further, for a UNSS program to be successful, a community must already have resources available to which UNSS providers can refer parents. With this in mind, it becomes essential to understand where resources are available within the state, not only to determine where UNSS programs might be most effectively launched first, but also to pinpoint where additional resources and capacity-building work is needed. Our latest report, Universal Newborn Support Systems: A Review of Readiness, is a first step to understanding those questions. 

Using county-level data, this report examines areas of “risk”—particularly focused on birth-related and perinatal risk factors, which UNSS programs are designed to address—as well as community resources and services. Using simple statistical analysis, communities that deviate farthest from the mean are highlighted. This report is intended to serve as a way to start the conversation and begin to frame the question of where Illinois’ UNSS efforts should be focused. However, it is not without limitations and should not be used as a determining factor in these decisions.  

Read the Full Report

Universal Newborn Support Systems: A Review of Readiness

A report exploring and mapping the availability of prenatal-to-three resources in Illinois

Learn More

While reading, there are several things to consider, which include: 

  • What metrics are most useful and relevant to this topic? While the authors of this report chose specific metrics that they viewed as relevant to UNSS, there are many other data points that were not or could not be included. Additional exploration to understand which resources are most essential for new families, and an analysis weighing these resources accordingly, could lead to greater insights on this topic.  

  • What data is missing? Separate from the first point is the issue of data that is unavailable. Some highly relevant data points—such as the maternal mortality rate—cannot be reliably disaggregated for communities with small populations without threatening the quality of the data, and there is little that can be done in such cases.  In other cases, relevant data simply does not exist, or does not exist in a high-quality and reliable format on community or even county levels. For example, maternal morbidity rates are higher than those for maternal mortality and therefore may have fewer challenges to reliability in smaller populations. The Illinois Maternal Health Task Force has significantly improved the state’s understanding of maternal morbidity and mortality in recent years, but finding community-level data is still difficult. Other data points, such as the distribution of midwives or doulas, are also lacking on a smaller scale. Data on infant and toddler programs and services is frequently less readily available than data relating to older children, and addressing this gap would serve not only to support this endeavor, but also to pave the way for future research and programs for the state’s youngest learners.  
  • What is the role of community leaders? Apart from improving data on a state-wide level, there is a significant portion of information that cannot be collected by the state, and must be shared by leaders within their communities. This information includes informal and/or temporary resources—such as educational programs, support groups, parenting classes, and other local services—that are essential to new parents and the success of UNSS programs, but which cannot be mapped on a statewide level. Collecting high-level data is not and cannot be a replacement for collaborating with leaders within communities. Furthermore, communities must be involved in conversations about scaling new resources and programs such as UNSS, as local engagement and partnership is essential to building sustainable services. 

This report is shared with the hope that it will serve as a catalyst for additional conversations, not just about UNSS within Illinois, but about the resources available to new and expecting families across the country. 

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